Named for its position on the Hauraki Gulf as a defense (or "barrier") to the open sea, the Great Barrier Island is the largest island approximate to New Zealand's North Island and fits in nicely as yet another setting of natural beauty and adventure opportunity. Located about 100 km northeast of Auckland, the island is easily reached by both air and sea, although the frequency varies depending on the season; the airport is located at Claris and all ferries arrive at Tryphena.
Once to the island, you'll find that both leisure and adventure are held in high regard. The beaches are top notch and can be the site of a day's relaxation, whether you spend your time on the eastern side, where commendable surf breaks are common on beaches like Medlands, Kaitoke, Awana and Whangapoua (all of which have associated campgrounds) or on the west side, where the coves and bays of tiny communities like Port Fitzroy, Whangaparapara, and Tryphena are also great for kayakers of all experience levels. Scuba diving and snorkeling are also very popular because of high visibility levels and cool subterranean geology and marine life.
Aotea, as the island is also known, not only has great beach and water activities, but it also provides plenty of land-based adventures for hikers, mountain bikers, and other active travelers of the Embark community. There are a number of hiking tracks, but two stand out as highlights. The Aotea Track is a 2-3 day experience that touches on the majority of the island's charming landscapes, starting from the Kaitoke Hot Springs, skirting the jagged thumb of Mount Heale, and returning to Whangaparapara Road; there are also detour options for waterfall swims or old mining paths. The other hiking highlight is the popular and easy Kaitoke Hot Springs track is a one hour trip from Whangaparapara Road through sulfurous wetlands and is home to a number of dammed pools for your bathing pleasure. There a handful of mountain biking tracks of the Department of Conservation maintained land, the Forest Road track being the longest (13 km), while the Harataonga/Okiwi Coastal Walkway and Te Ahumata Road Track are both moderately challenging options depending on your skill level.
For further information camping, the island communities, and much more, please browse through the included links.